Published: 10/06/2022

Exploring the cybersecurity challenges in gaming

Online gaming is a billion-dollar industry. The US video games market has almost tripled in size over the last decade, and is now worth more than $85 billion.

As the industry grows, so do the threats surrounding it. Huge gaming networks have massive potential for cybersecurity exploitation, from account takeover to DDoS attacks that cause huge reductions in ad and in-game revenue. So it’s important for gaming companies and players alike to understand how cybersecurity in gaming works, and how weak security measures can put the entire industry at risk.

The current state of cybersecurity in the online gaming industry

The last few years have seen a huge shift from single-player and couch co-op games to multiplayer online gaming. Triggered by the rise of gaming influencers, esports, and YouTube gaming channels, the culture of online gaming now requires open networks and constant information relay between players.

As networks expand, it’s more difficult to protect them from cybercriminals. Hackers can locate and target security flaws within networks, servers, and devices, with the aim of stealing data, money, or valuable in-game goods. This compromises the privacy of your users and the security of your platform, potentially leading to fines and reputation damage.

Why hackers are targeting online gaming

More than one-fifth of gamers in the US are under 18, which makes them an easy target for hackers. Younger players may not be aware of the risks of sharing sensitive information online, especially with people they don’t know, which can make them particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

In addition, the data stored on gaming servers is extremely valuable. From credit card details to login credentials, hackers can make huge profits by stealing, selling, or using this information. This also extends to rare and valuable in-game goods.

The most common cyberattacks on gaming sites

The open nature of online games exposes many potential cybersecurity risks, including:

  • Account takeover via credential stuffing — hackers use bots to force entry to online gaming accounts, where they can steal goods, data, or credit card information
  • Reward points theft or fraud — attackers steal in-game points and rewards from user accounts, usually through account takeover or phishing
  • Console hacking — hackers gain remote access to gaming consoles or computers, and can make it part of a botnet
  • Game piracy — attackers steal game code to create and distribute unauthorized copies of popular games
  • DDoS attacks and other server issues — sustained automated attacks can cause downtime on your platform or website, leading to fewer players and reduced revenue
  • Privacy and data breaches — hackers steal sensitive data, which they then sell, use, or ransom for a profit.

Strategies to protect your gaming platform from cybercrime

There are several ways to enhance cybersecurity on your platform:

  1. Data encryption

Encrypting your data prevents hackers from reading, selling, or using your information, even if they manage to access it. Strong data encryption is vital for protecting user data, particularly if younger players are part of your online gaming community.

  1. Multi-factor authentication and other ID verification methods

Like data encryption, multi-factor authentication can provide additional security if a user’s credentials are compromised. It asks users to verify their login attempt via an alternative account or device, preventing hackers from logging in to unauthorized accounts. However, sophisticated attackers have developed ways to bypass multi-factor authentication.

  1. Sophisticated threat detection

Many modern cyberattacks are performed by automated programs called bots. Cybercriminals program bots to attack gaming platforms and websites with specific threats, such as credential stuffing, distributed denial-of-service, or card cracking.

These threats are difficult to detect without specialist bot detection software. If you see evidence of a cyberattack on your gaming site,  it's essential to invest in a bot mitigation solution to identify and block malicious bots.

The future of cybersecurity in gaming

The popularity of online gaming shows no signs of slowing down. Mobile games as well as traditional desktops and consoles are now popular with online gamers. As a result, players and gaming companies will experience more frequent and severe cyber threats.

To prepare for the future of online gaming, make sure your platform is fully protected with the right security system. Learn more about bot management in gaming here.

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